Asking the right employee engagement survey questions is critical for human resource managers seeking to improve company culture, raise employee retention, optimize employee performance, and maximize profits.
Teams with high employee satisfaction see higher employee retention, lower absenteeism, and fewer workplace accidents. Employee satisfaction is also tied to higher customer loyalty, which makes sense—happy employees provide better customer service and are more likely to contribute to a good net promoter score.
- According to research by Gallup, business units with engaged employees generate 23% more profit than business units with unhappy, disengaged employees.
- Disengaged employees cost U.S. businesses an estimated $450-$550 billion per year in lost productivity.
- A Gallup meta-analysis also found that low-engagement teams see 18%–43% higher employee turnover rates than highly engaged teams.
Despite these powerful benefits, most organizations haven’t cracked the code for employee engagement. Gallup’s 2022 State of the Global Workplace report found that, globally, only 21% of employees are engaged.
So, without further ado, in this post, we’ll explore:
- What An Employee Engagement Survey Is And How They Help You Build A Better Workplace
- Employee Engagement Survey Questions You Can Use To Take The Pulse Of Your Organization
- Engagement Survey Best Practices.
What Is An Employee Engagement Survey?
An employee engagement survey is a set of questions used to collect feedback from employees to gauge the level of engagement and loyalty employees feel toward their place of work.
The data gleaned from survey responses enables organizations to make informed decisions that promote a productive work environment and supportive culture in which employees thrive.
The act of conducting employee engagement surveys in itself communicates that you take employees’ happiness and well-being seriously and care about the employee experience.
Giving disengaged employees an opportunity to be heard can have a huge impact on morale—granted that you follow through on feedback and make positive changes.
To accurately diagnose and address these issues, engagement surveys should collect employee feedback pertaining to the organization as a whole, as well as the business unit, team, and role level.
Among other things, an engagement survey can help businesses to get a sense of:
- Whether employees feel enthusiastic about the organization
- How satisfied employees are with their role
- Whether employees feel challenged and stimulated by their work
- Whether employees feel empowered, inspired, and supported by management
- Whether employees feel that they have opportunities for growth and a future with the company
- How motivated employees feel to go the extra mile
- Whether employees feel connected to their colleagues and the business
- Whether employees feel included and respected in their day-to-day work
- Whether employees have access to the resources and skills they need to succeed in their role
- Whether employees are aligned with company goals and understand why their work matters
- How loyal employees feel toward the organization—and how likely they are to leave
- Whether employees feel the company’s mission and values align with their own
- Which aspects of company culture work and which aspects need improvement
- Which specific issues that affect employee morale need to be addressed most urgently.
Don’t wait to read employee complaints on negative Glassdoor reviews. If you’re proactive and frequently take the pulse of your company culture through engagement surveys, you can diagnose and address the issues that bring down employee happiness and result in disengaged employees.
What exactly are you trying to measure with an employee engagement survey?
In a nutshell, an engagement survey seeks to understand how employees’ day-to-day experiences positively or negatively impact their motivation, productivity, and loyalty to the organization.
However, it’s not quite as simple as asking “how do you feel about [company name]” and calling it a day. Humans are complex creatures with complex emotions, and the same employee may feel very positive about the company as a whole but dread their day-to-day work, be bored out of their minds, or despise their manager.
Ideally, we want to gain a rounded or holistic understanding of how specific, addressable aspects of the employee experience fuel either engagement or its antithesis, apathy.
To do this, we need to ask a variety of strategic questions. But where to begin?
Identifying the core issues that impact employee satisfaction—and, in turn, employee retention—gives us a starting point in the form of a broad sense of the topics we should ask employees to give input on.
A 2020 study by the Work Insitute found that the leading avoidable causes of turnover were:
- 18% Career-related: Opportunities for growth, achievement, and security
- 10.5% Work-life Balance-related: Scheduling, travel, and remote work preferences
- 10% Job-related: Enjoyment and ownership in manageable work
- 7.8% Manager-related: Productive relationship preferences
- 7.7% Environment: Physical and cultural surroundings
- 7% Total Rewards: Compensation and benefits promised and received.
The leading drivers of employee turnover largely overlap with the core drivers of employee engagement or disengagement in the workplace, as identified by Gallup.
When we compare them directly, this overlap becomes more obvious.
Now, you may have noticed “Purpose” is a driver of engagement that recurs across all of the drivers of retention. This is intentional. Purpose is an intrinsic human need that permeates all aspects of workplace engagement.
You’ll also notice that “work-life balance”—the second largest driver of avoidable employee attrition—is not included in the table above. The reason for this is that work-life balance is not a driver of engagement but a product thereof.
Where the other drivers of engagement are present, work-life balance will follow.
51 Employee Engagement Survey Questions
When conducting an employee survey, it’s important to ask the right questions to get the data you need while making sure that you don’t inadvertently alienate employees or bias their responses.
Below, we’ve provided 51 example questions you can use or use as a jumping-off point when drafting your own employee engagement survey questions.
We’ve sorted them into 8 different sections based on the different aspects of engagement they seek to measure.
Employee net promoter score questions
Much like a net promoter score (NPS), which measures customers’ brand loyalty, an employee net promoter score (eNPS) aims to put a number to employee loyalty or quantify how likely employees are to recommend the company as a good place to work.
Like an NPS, eNPS these questions are answered by assigning a score out of ten and overall responses to this section place employees into one of three categories:
0-6: Detractors – Highly dissatisfied and likely to spread negative views through word of mouth
7-8: Passives – Neither emotionally invested nor actively disengaged
9-10: Promoters – Extremely loyal to the organization and likely to spread positive views
More than a third of employees surveyed by Limeade report that a coworker has encouraged them to quit their job.
These questions aim to measure employee loyalty and, by extension, engagement.
- I feel proud to work for [Company Name]
- [Company Name]’s vision and values inspire me
- I feel excited about coming to work most days
- I feel motivated to go the extra mile for [Company Name]
- I rarely think about seeking a job at a different company
- I see myself still working here in [X number] years’ time
- I would recommend [Company Name] as a good place to work.
Goals alignment questions
Employees who feel that their job description closely aligns with their work are 2.5 times more likely to be engaged.
Clear goals and objectives are fundamental employee needs. Employees who don’t know what is expected of them (the purpose of their work) simply aren’t equipped to feel confident in their ability to meet the requirements of their role.
Understanding how their responsibilities align with the company’s larger goals and strategy empowers employees to take ownership of their work. Knowing exactly “what success looks like” enables workers to use their own methods to achieve the desired outcomes. This, in turn, allows them to feel challenged by their work, and to take pride in their growth and success.
These questions aim to gauge engagement by establishing how well the employee is aligned with organizational goals and understands what is expected of them.
- I understand what I need to do to succeed in my role
- I believe that quality and improvement are important to [Company Name]
- I feel motivated to do my best work for [Company Name]
- I feel ownership over my work.
As we’ve seen, a sense of purpose is crucial to feeling engaged at work. Beyond being seen as good at our jobs, most of us would also like to derive a sense of meaning from our work.
Considering we spend nearly half our waking hours at work, it makes sense that most people would prefer to work in a job that meets their need to feel like they’re making a difference.
An organization’s mission and values—and the action it takes to embody those values—matters to today’s employees.
- Employees expect their employers to take action on social issues such as climate change (81%), automation (79%), and racism (79%).
- For 67% of job seekers, diversity and inclusion initiatives are determining factors selecting an employer.
These questions seek to measure engagement by gauging how employees feel about the organization’s stance on social issues that matter to them.
- I find my work for [Company Name] meaningful
- I feel that [Company Name] is a socially-responsible organization
- I believe that [Company Name] is committed to diversity and inclusion and its practices reflect this
- I believe that [Company Name] is committed to environmental stewardship.
There’s a strong relationship between great management and employee engagement levels.
In fact, according to Gallup, “70% of the variance in team engagement is determined solely by the manager.”
Employees who report having regular meetings with their managers and receive frequent feedback are three times more likely to be engaged employees. They’re also less likely to want to leave. To poach an employee from an engaging manager, you can expect to fork over at least a 20% pay raise.
These questions seek to measure engagement by getting insight into employees’ view of—and relationship with—the organization’s leadership as well as their direct manager(s).
- The leaders at [Company Name] have communicated a clear vision and objectives
- I feel that the leaders at [Company Name] are transparent and share important information that affects the company as a whole
- I feel that the leaders at [Company Name] are transparent and share important information that affects me as an individual
- I feel that my manager is someone I can respect and trust
- I believe that my manager is capable and effective
- I believe that my manager/supervisor is invested in my success
- I feel that the executives at [Company Name] care about creating a positive work environment and company culture
- I feel that I receive appropriate recognition for doing good work
Work enablement questions
There are few things more frustrating or burnout-inducing than not having the resources (whether that be time, materials, or skills) to achieve seemingly impossible goals set by managers.
When employees are properly equipped to do their work, they’re empowered to do their work as effectively and efficently as possible. This, in turn, promotes better work-life balance, which you’ll recall is the top determining factor of whether employees remain in their current job.
As we’ve seen, work-life balance is the product of an engaged workplace. As such, it can also be a powerful measure of employees’ overall sentiment toward their role and organization.
These questions seek to measure engagement by eliciting feedback on whether employees feel that the organization equips and empowers them to succeed in their roles.
- I feel I am equipped with the skills and knowledge to do my job well
- I have access to the resources, tools, and materials I need to succeed in my role
- I feel that my team is equipped to meet our objectives
- I feel I have access to the training I need to excel in my role
- I think that the systems and processes in place to support employees in getting their work done are effective
- I feel I have a good working relationship with my team members
- I feel comfortable and safe voicing my opinions and contributing ideas
- I feel comfortable asking for help if I don’t have the resources, time, or skills I need to perform a task
- I usually have enough time to do my work well
- I often work long hours or take work home to complete projects
- I feel I have a healthy balance/separation between work and my personal life
- I feel that if I ask for help, I will receive it
Work environment questions
Work Institute’s 2020 Retention Report found that 7.7% of avoidable employee turnover are the result of issues stemming from the work environment—that is, their physical and cultural surroundings.
With the rise of remote and hybrid work environments, tracking the relationship between engagement and work environment will only become more important.
These questions aim to measure engagement by establishing whether employees are satisfied with the physical and cultural environment of the workplace or office space itself.
- I feel that the workspace is conducive to work
- The workspace or office is well-equipped for the work at hand
- The workplace offers comfortable places to take a break, relax and socialize with my colleagues
- The workspace or office is set up for collaboration as well as work that requires concentration
- I am satisfied with the amenities available in the workplace at [Company Name]
- I feel that the company culture at [Company Name] is positive and collaborative
Employees invest in companies that invest in them. Companies with high internal mobility (that hire/promote from within) retain employees for twice as long as companies that don’t prioritize promoting from within—and these internally hired employees are 3.5 times more likely to be engaged.
These questions seek to measure engagement by asking how employees feel about their career and development prospects with your organization.
- I believe [Company Name] holds good career opportunities for me
- I have access to professional development opportunities at [Company Name]
- My manager or supervisor is interested/invested in my career aspirations
- I feel my work is the right balance of achievable and challenging
- I feel that my work is contributing to my professional development
- I believe [Company Name]’s performance management initiatives are sufficient
Free-text questions provide an opportunity to ask your employees for more general feedback on issues they deem important.
Including open-ended employee survey questions allows you to gather qualitative data in addition to the quantitative data you gather through scale-based questions.
These questions give employees a chance to be heard, address anything you didn’t think to ask about, and raise issues that you may not even be aware of.
- What things are [Company Name] doing really well?
- What do you think [Company Name] could be doing better?
- Is there anything we didn’t ask you about in this survey that you feel we should know?
- Are there any specific things we could do to help you feel more engaged at work?
Employee Engagement Survey Best Practices
Here are some best practice tips to make the most of your engagement surveys:
Survey best practices
- Use frequent pulse surveys instead of annual surveys to continuously measure and improve engagement and track improvement over time
- Make survey responses 100% anonymous to encourage employees to be honest in their criticism without fear of reprisals
- Incentivize participation with an inexpensive reward or treat (e.g. company swag, a coupon for a coffee)
- Use automation to send out pulse surveys at intervals, set up survey completion deadlines and reminders
- Use shorter surveys with fewer questions to encourage survey participation
- Use a simple response scale such as the Likert Scale to keep survey responses fast and low-effort to improve participation.
Post-survey best practices
- Communicate to your employees that you’re making it a priority to improve employee engagement and learn from them
- Use data analysis to identify trends and gain insight into fluctuations in survey responses over time
- Use follow-up pulse surveys to dig deeper to understand specific employee concerns and how to fix them
- Invite employees to be part of the conversation and take ownership of their engagement
- Take deliberate action to address issues revealed through the survey responses
- Clearly communicate the actions you’re taking to improve engagement
- Embed engagement goals throughout your organization—and at all levels
- Offer employees transparency by sharing the survey results
- If you have the right employee survey software and/or human resource capacity, you could even provide personalized reports and recommendations
While engagement surveys are a great way to measure how your employees feel about your organization, just running a survey isn’t going to fix—or even find—all your problems.
Some other ways to get an accurate reading of employee sentiment and engagement include:
- Anonymous suggestion boxes
- More direct and hands-on collaboration between managers and employees
- Skip-level meetings to foster transparency
For more on running successful surveys, check out An Easy Guide To Employee Surveys (With Questions), and for detailed tips on improving engagement in your organization, read The Y Factor: How To Successfully Increase Employee Engagement.